“VIII is the story of Hal: a young, handsome, gifted warrior, who believes he has been chosen to lead his people. But he is plagued by the ghosts of his family’s violent past and, once he rises to power, he turns to murder and rapacious cruelty. He is Henry VIII.”
This is clearly a very well researched novel with a solid grounding in historical fact. It is in the unusual position of being a young adult novel where the protagonist is an adult for a large portion of the book, and is in his 50s at the end, which doesn’t quite work for me. There are some dramatic devices that are overused and it casts Henry in a rather too favourable light but it is very readable. I imagine that part of the reason I felt it had many flaws and many other, mainly younger, readers enjoyed it so much was just the level of existing knowledge about Henry. I had thought that my background in Tudor history would deepen my enjoyment of this but in fact I think it did the opposite. Perhaps young adults readers will enjoy the speedy foray into Henry’s adult years and it will inspire them to find out more about what happened.
First Line: ‘I’m still half asleep when I feel strong hands grabbing me.’
Why I read it: My husband bought it for me from my Amazon wishlist. I studied Tudor history at university so am always interested to read perspectives on Henry VIII.